Maurine (and Scot),
I can't imagine the pain you are feeling -- even as you so eloquently write about it. All I can offer is gratitude for the knowledge you have that you will ALWAYS remember Melissa.
A number of years ago, after the two LDS wagon trains our family participated in in 1996 and 1997, we were once again on a wagon train -- this one -- the California Gold Rush Train re-enactment.
Prior to that train, we had been part of a challenge which President Monson had issued to members of the 1997 Wagon Train (otherwise known to the participants of that generation of wagon trains as the BIG TRAIN).
President Monson, then still a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, had asked the participants of that train to bring one of the 6,000 saints who had perished during the exodus and so had not reached the Salt Lake Valley to the Valley with them. We were each told to think of a way to remember them as part of this challenge.
One of the 6,000 which our family chose to remember was a baby -- the infant son of my Danish Great-Great-Grandmother, who had been born near Ogalala, Nebraska during the journey of the Hodgett Wagon Train which accompanied the Martin Handcart Company to the Salt Lake Valley.
The baby had survived his family's ordeal at Martin's Cove, but had finally perished somewhere along the Green River in Wyoming.
While we were on the '97 Wagon Train, I had learned that little Joseph Larsen (this baby) had been inadvertently left off the stone ledgers at the Visitor's Center at the Sun Ranch at Martin's Cove, so I decided to try to rectify that problem as a way to remember him. I was able to send in the paperwork to take care of that omission, but his name had also been left off of the Riverton Wyoming Stake's list in their Second Rescue book as well. (The Second Rescue had as it's goal the performance of neededTemple Work for the members of the Willie and Martin Handcart companies and their accompanying wagon trains -- the Hunt and the Hodgett Wagon Trains.)
I had tried to contact the person in charge of rectifying that problem without success for two years; and had pretty much given up my quest, when a miracle occurred as our Wagon Train rested for the night at Rock Hollow, near Rocky Ridge, Wyoming.
Because I was the one cooking for all of the participants on that particular small wagon train, I was late to arrive at the campfire that night. However, when I approached the campfire, I realized that there were three people sitting on the logs in front of the fire whom I did not recognize -- an older gentleman and two young children. I soon learned that these three people were still sitting at our fireside because the adult of the group (a grandfather) had lost his keys to his car and so couldn't drive home with his grandchildren until his daughter arrived at the Hollow with a second set of keys. By this time, he had been waiting for her arrival for several hours.
As we talked further, I soon realized, to my astonishment, that the grandfather of this small "keyless" group, was the very person from the Riverton Stake whom I had tried to connect for the past two years!
We were then able to talk about adding little Joseph's name to the next edition of the Second Rescue book; and we also talked about how our meeting to discuss this never would have occurred that night had this man not "lost" his keys earlier in the evening, as he would have been long gone before I finished my cooking and cleaning up chores for the train's evening meal.
Just before he left, he and his grandchildren walked me to my family's wagon. As we said goodbye, I distinctly heard these words in my head -- words that I knew then and still know now -- without a shadow of a doubt -- came from Little Joseph --- now an adult spirit "Remember me, Remember me, Remember me," he said. So -- yes, just as Melissa felt sorrow for that woman whom she felt had no one to remember her, Little Joseph had felt a similar sorrow.
However, through you and your love and your amazing literary talent for expression, your Melissa will never have to utter those words in anyone's ear! What a gift! What a precious, precious gift!
Leave her stocking up all year. Each day in the coming year write a tender mercy, blessing, or miracle at the top of a full sheet of paper, fold it lengthwise in half and place it in the stocking so the words face the room. When your heart cries out for Melissa during the day, look to the stocking from clear across the room and think of all the tender mercies that still come to you. Anne Frank said, "Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy." All your readers are part of the beauty still left around you. The Sun that shines brightly every day (change one letter and it becomes Son) will ALWAYS be part of the beauty still left around you. Grieving is a choice. You can choose to grieve or you can choose to be happy. If you focus on what you have left that is beautiful in your life you will instantly be happy. If you focus on what you have lost you will instantly be sad. The choice is yours. I plead with you to "Look to God and Christ in every little thing and rejoice." Melissa's spirit is home! She is safe! She is happy! She is surrounded by beautiful spirits! Since Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother were sealed in eternal marriage, all their spirit children are born in the covenant. All of us are sealed to our heavenly parents! How joyful it must be for Melissa to be back in Their presence! How can we even have one tiny thought of grieving when she is now so joyful? Sing praise to His and His Son's name for Melissa will live forever! She is alive! She is HOME! She has passed the test! Oh how we should rejoice!
Maurine, thank you for your wonderful tribute to your beautiful daughter, and I am so deeply sorry for your loss. I am going through the most excruciating period of my life, EVER and seriously don't know how we will survive this. My beautiful daughter, Amy age 30, and her 2 daughters, age 5 and 18 months (my precious grandbabies, the joys of my life) were shot and killed while they slept on Nov 17th. Killed by Amy's husband and the girls father. The LAST person on the planet you would think capable of such a thing--he was incredibly loving, kind, gentle, totally devoted loving husband and father. We are in shock and so traumatized and grief stricken. I am active LDS (my husband is a nonmember, but believes in much of the Church). We have an almost 20 year old daughter who is also struggling with the losses. None of us can make sense of this horrid situation. Life feels hopeless for us and this pain is unbearable and excruciating. One loss is horrific enough...how does one survive 3, at one time? And by murder? We pray and pray but still can't receive much comfort. We are confused and I feel like I am going to go out of my mind with this pain. I am so worried that my darling daughter and granddaughters cannot feel peace because I know they wanted to live--they had a lifetime ahead of them. God Bless you and your family and I pray a miracle will happen and that eventually we'll have a modicum of peace. Thank you again for your article and again, my deepest condolences--your daughter is beautiful. Thank you for reading (didn't mean to hijack your wonderful article).
Maurine, this is SO beautifully written!! I understand only a little of your pain, having buried an infant daughter a long time ago. I read your previous article about Melissa and copied it to save in my journal (and will do likewise with this one!). I sat in our YSA RS a couple of weeks ago as you spoke with the girls about being happy and was absolutely astonished that you were able to deliver such a beautiful message, knowing what I knew about Melissa and what you had previously written. I think you are amazing and loved all of your insights and honest thoughts. It is a blessing in our lives to have just the little interaction that we do with the Proctors. Hugs to you this Christmas Season!
Maurine and Scot, How blessed we feel to have had the opportunity to meet you and learn so much from you on our special UK Church History trip together this year. Every year, the last thing our daughter made, comes out for the Christmas season, and every year I am a little sad (selfishly I know) for wondering what she would be like today, what her church calling would be, and how many grandchildren she would have honored us with. Your writing and spirit is beautiful, touching many lives. May the Lord bless you both with peace and comfort ~ always. Most lovingly, Denise and Dave Cottrell
A few years ago I lost someone very dear to me. I had no memories of goodness or hope for the future to comfort me. My loved one died deeply immersed in sin. A life of terrible tragedy.
I felt I coulld not go on, that Satan had won this battle. The despair was terrible. But finally I became angry with him and decided to start taking people back from him. I spent days at the Family History Center preparing names for temple work. I did hundreds, then thousands of names. I celebrated the snatching back of my brothers and sisters and stood on the steps of the library telling Satan that these people would shortly be free and he would never again hold any power over them. And if he bothered me again, I would come and do twice as many people next time. I made sure he knew I knew he had lost.
Maurine, fill your daughter's stocking, with gifts you give away in her name. Change the direction of your grief to one of celebration of a mortal journey completed in honor. You will miss her for the rest of your life, just as you will miss your other children as you precede them to the next world. Make every time you remember her a source of love and a remembrance of her goodness by sharing that goodness with others. Your writing is powerful, but your actions more so.
I am so very sorry for the loss of your child.
I too, remember Melissa from those never to be forgotten Chicago days. The first time I entered the Chicago Ward building, I spotted that mass of darling black hair on her infant head. I am sorry, so very sorry that you had to experience this loss also in your life. Love you always.
Oh Maurine! I am in a puddle of tears, not only for your loss but also for your magnificent writing! Our Shawni is Melissa's age. What a loss, but what a beautiful way to mourn! Richard joins in thanking you for your inspiration to us through so many years and especially with this loving article on the power of faith! Our prayers will be with you during this holiday season!
5 years ago this Christmas we held the hands of our dying daughter Allisa and prayed that she might be blessed to last just a few more days which she did...she returned home January 6, 2012. 3 days later my husband and I celebrated our 25 wedding anniversary amid the thousands of flowers I was arranging for her funeral. The hole that is left in the hearts of those left behind never goes away...but the throbbing pain of the loss fades into a deep gratitude for the Atonement of our Savior and the promise that comes from Eternal covenants made. Many are the times when we feel her near, and more are the times that we are grateful that she is where she is and that she is doing what she is doing to bless the lives of so many still here on earth. Though this mother's heart and arms ache to hold her again, the pain of her absence is worth the sure knowledge I have gained. I ache for you and for your family, but know that you KNOW what I KNOW...and we will be compensated for our loss in God's time. Knowledge is power, and there is nothing that the adversary can offer that can compare to what we now have. Blessings to you all.
Beautifully written, filled with so much tenderness and faith. Thank you for sharing your very soul with us. I'm feeling similarly right now. So much emotion and love for those we've lost temporarily. They await to greet us in our heavenly home. All these experiences help us appreciate even more the depth of our Savior's atoning sacrifice for us and our families. Merry Christmas, dear friend.
This is for Scot:
I can feel your loss, for I experienced the same loss more than 35 years ago. I was traveling homeward, and knew that she was critically ill, and the journey to its destination was so slow, and I arrived too late to give her a parting blessing: I arrived at mid day, but it was too late - she had departed that morning. The moment I heard of her departure, I let out a scream and shouted: "NO!" that I am sure the whole floor of the hospital heard. Her body has long since gone, but her spirit still lives on in my heart. Nobody can understand the tender mercies that link father and daughter together, temporarily parted, and yet yearning for just one more meeting of pure love!!! And yet remembering our restored gospel, we have a knowledge that is enduring for ever, We will meet yet again when it is our turn to leave this mortal sphere, and oh how sweet the joy will be when we will embrace yet again. I long for that reunion!
Think back to when Luciano Pavarotti died. His was a God-given talent, his was a heaven-sent voice, one that God simply does not waste nor does He forever silence. We mourned when he died, when that voice from heaven was laid quiet for a season. "Do you think that God would waste that talent?" we would ask. "Do you think that God would allow that beautiful sound to simply vanish, never to be heard again?" (apart from audio recordings). Of course not. God will bring all of us forth, whole and beautiful, and in our prime and in our best voices, too. Pavarotti lives in the world of spirits and one day in resurrected glory will live again. And you and I will live again when that glorious day arrives. And so, too, as you so well know, Melissa presently lives, and moves, and is not far from you, and in that glorious day, too, will come forth in glory. Christ came forth and promised we would too. That even Job, in his grief, understood. Melissa is blessed, she is enveloped in flaming fire, she knows our thoughts, feelings and emotions.
"The spirits of the just are exalted to a greater and more glorious work -- hence they are blessed in departing hence. Enveloped in flaming fire, they are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and are often pained therewith." (History of the Church 6:52; Times and Seasons 4 (15 September 1843):331-332.)
What a truly beautiful daughter- in every way. And what a poignant and lovely tribute to her, and all she means to you. I have not yet been asked to part with one of my children here, though I lost my only sister and 4 young brothers to death. I suppose no one can really know another's pain, but we can, and do, hurt with you and for you. The poem you quote, "Death is Nothing," gives only the first line of the last stanza. It is by Henry Scott-Holland, and that stanza reads in full: "All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!" I've found it helps me to look forward to the love and laughter and experiences we shall share at that reunion- which WILL come. Much love to you.
I did not know Melissa had died. I remember when she was young and we were all living in Chicago. " I'm sorry for your loss" sounds so trite when your pain is so deep. "Master, to whom shall we go?" is the recognition and faith that there is no place other than our Savior that can heal this kind of sorrow. Let your writing continue to be to let your feelings out.
Maurine, So graciously expounded. Thank you for letting us into your soul just a bit during this holiday season; for sharing your loving tribute to your wonderful daughter, Melissa, and your witness of the love of God and far reaching impact of the Atonement as a source of all types of healing if and as we embrace it. Hugs my friend.
Thank You Maurine for sharing your journey of grief and comfort with all of us. Collapsing into the consoling arms of our Redeemer while still living life is a tender mercy on so many levels. I'm so grateful that you are sharing this painful and expansive experience in your beautiful prose.
Dearest Maurine, Thank you for sharing your precious tender feelings and uplifting thoughts and words, so that we may all grow to new levels of resiliency and gratitude for our loving Savior!!
Thank you for helping ME to be more in tune with the needs of those I love, that may be mourning. We love you with all our hearts!!!
Thank you, thank you. What a touching, wonderful tribute. My heart was lifted from your words. We lost our 34 year old son less than two years ago and your tribute to your daughter lifted my spirits. God bless you and your family. #GratefulForEternalCovenants.
Oh Maurine, what a tender faith promoting post. I had not heard about your daughter. Thank you for teaching us so eloquently in the midst of your pain.
Email (will not be published)
Daily news, articles, videos and podcasts sent straight to your inbox.